Spike TV

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Template:Infobox Network Spike TV is a cable network that began as The Nashville Network (TNN), founded by Gaylord Entertainment Company and Group W Satellite Communications in March 1983. TNN was renamed Spike in 2003 after a brief lawsuit by filmmaker Spike Lee.

The Nashville Network (1983-2000)

TNN logo 1997.
TNN logo 1997-2000.

The Nashville Network was based at the Opryland USA theme park in Nashville. During its first TNN era, the network focused on country music-related programming and reruns of country-themed network shows. TNN's flagship shows included Nashville Now and Grand Ole Opry Live, both of which were broadcast live from Opryland USA.

Much of TNN's programming during the Gaylord era was originally produced by Opryland Productions, also owned by Gaylord Entertainment. Shows included variety shows, talk shows, game shows, outdoors shows, and lifestyle shows. Some of TNN's popular on-air talent included local Nashville media personalties Ralph Emery, Charlie Chase, and Lorianne Crook, as well as established stars such as country music singer Bill Anderson and actresses Florence Henderson and Dinah Shore. TNN even created stars, such as wily fisherman Bill Dance.

TNN had two self-operating and self-promoting sub-divisions, TNN Outdoors and TNN Motor Sports. TNN Outdoors was responsible for the programming of hunting and fishing shows. TNN Motor Sports was responsible for production of all the network's racing coverage, including NASCAR Winston Cup and smaller outfits such as USAC, NHRA, and ARCA. Motorcycle and speedboat racing was also broadcast. TNN Outdoors and TNN Motor Sports also marketed themselves, selling a variety of merchandise and branding themselves onto video games.

Westinghouse (owner of the CBS networks) purchased TNN and its sister network CMT in 1995 to form CBS Cable (along with a short-lived startup network entitled "Eye On People"). Most of the original entertainment-oriented programming ceased production, and the network began to rely more on TNN Outdoors and TNN Motor Sports for programming. The network's ties to CBS allowed it to pick up country-themed CBS dramas from the 1980s such as The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas, neither of which had been seen on television since their original runs ended. During this time, Ralph Emery retired from Nashville Now. Upon Emery's exit, the show was overhauled and renamed Music City Tonight (hosted by Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase). After a very short run, Crook and Chase left the show to launch a syndicated daytime show, Crook & Chase, which eventually came to TNN after failing in the syndication market. Music City Tonight was overhauled again to resemble its original Nashville Now format, but was again rebranded as Prime Time Country. This version was originally hosted by actor Tom Wopat. He was later replaced with singer/songwriter Gary Chapman, who enjoyed relative success with the show until its cancellation in 1999.

During this time, the network's new logo had to be changed after officials from Turner Broadcasting pointed out the fusion of the T and the first N was strikingly similar to their TNT logo (used until 2001). TNN relented after the threat of a lawsuit and altered the logo, separating the T and the N. Ownership shifted to Viacom in the late 1990s after its acquisition of Westinghouse's media efforts. TNN and CMT were subsequently folded into Viacom's MTV Networks division.

The National Network/The New TNN (2000-2003)

In September 2000, Viacom sensed redundancy among its related TNN and CMT networks when they merged them into their MTV Networks unit and decided to refocus TNN. The network dramatically scaled back its country-western trappings and changed its name to The National Network (also referred to as The New TNN). During this time, the network's operations were moved from Nashville to New York. The name change also triggered a significant programming change in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience. This change was catalyzed by Viacom's acquisition of the rights to WWF programming, including its flagship show Raw Is War. By 2002, all country-western programming had been purged from TNN. Some of The Nashville Network's former programming was picked up by CMT. Beginning in 2004, some of the older TNN programming, notably talk-show Crook & Chase, began re-airing on the Great American Country network.

Spike TV Lawsuit

File:Spike TV Logo.jpg
The original, never-used Spike TV logo from before the 2003 lawsuit. This logo was blurred out and removed from the network during the lawsuit.

In early 2003, another name change was announced. The new brand, Spike TV, was marketed as the first network for men, although this is not necessarily true, as networks such as Men TV already existed before Spike TV was announced. The name change was slated to coincide with a change in programming, including original shows like the adult-oriented animated series Stripperella, Gary the Rat, and the Ren & Stimpy's Adult Party Cartoon, as well as imports such as MXC (a.k.a. Most Extreme Elimination Challenge). The name change was supposed to be official on June 26, 2003. However, on June 19, 2003, film director Spike Lee won a New York State Supreme Court injunction preventing the name change, which Lee feared viewers would associate with him. Lee's injunction became the subject of ridicule in the media and talk shows. During the lawsuit, even the name "TNN" was significantly scaled back, as logos and voice-overs referred to the network as "The First Network for Men." On July 8, 2003, the suit was settled, and TNN was allowed to call itself Spike TV. There is some speculation that Lee had been paid a significant sum to sue the network in order as a way to promote the network, although this has never been proved. The name change became official on August 11 of that same year. Before August 11, there was a Spike TV party, but all the Spike TV logos were blurred out during the lawsuit.

Spike TV (2003-present)

The current, updated Spike TV logo.

Spike TV continues to operate as part of MTV Networks, owned by Viacom. It has scored some major coups in terms of its programming, receiving exclusive syndication rights to several Star Trek series (which was produced by another Viacom branch, Paramount Pictures), as well as most of the James Bond movie series. It is also the cable home to TV's #1 show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

In November 2004, Spike TV purchased the cable/satellite syndication rights to CSI: New York for a record price of $1.9 million per episode. The show is expected to join the network's line up in late 2005.

In September 2005, all WWE (formerly the WWF) programming on Spike TV left the network as a result of acrimonious contractual matters between WWE and Viacom. WWE RAW moved back to its original cable home, NBC Universal's USA Network while WWE Sunday Night HEAT and WWE Velocity moved to WWE.com. WWE Experience was cancelled after leaving the network. On October 1 2005, rival wrestling promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling began airing its weekly program TNA iMPACT! in the Saturday night timeslot formerly occupied by WWE Velocity.

In October 2005, Spike TV debuted Game Head with Geoff Keighley, a weekly video game show.

In December 2005, Spike TV will air the Spike TV Video Game Awards 2005 hosted by Samuel L. Jackson Previous hosts were David Spade and Snoop Dogg.

In April 2008, Spike TV will become the first broadcast network in the U.S. to air all six Star Wars movies on the same network, including holding premiere broadcast rights to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Spike TV beat out favorites NBC Universal and Turner Broadcasting for the lucrative deal (worth up to $80 million, although most of the two network systems had previously aired some or all of the Original Trilogy films).


Former Programming


  • Due to licensing restrictions, Canadian viewers of Spike TV see alternate programming whenever Spike airs a James Bond film. Most often, the subsituted show is the comedy adventure series, V.I.P., much to the chagrin of Bond movie fans.

External links

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